Panthers take first in Straughn Christmas tournament

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas came a few weeks early for the Georgiana boys varsity basketball team as the group took home a first-place trophy from the annual Straughn Christmas Tournament on Friday.

The Panthers claimed the tournament in decisive fashion with a 74-36 win over their first-round opponent, the Zion Chapel Rebels, and again on Friday with a 56-35 win over the hosting Straughn Tigers.

Despite the many preseason challenges facing the Panthers—including a lengthy football postseason that hampered preparation in the initial weeks of basketball season, Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris said that it was a hurdle his players overcame fairly quickly.

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“I think we are making the transition pretty easily,” Norris said.

“We have had some long practices and have been getting after each other.  Our guys have worked hard in the short time we have had.”

But the Panthers haven’t escaped the football season entirely unscathed, as one of the team’s senior captains—and a large rebounding presence on the inside—was notably absent early on.

“Richard Boggan has missed the first three games, but he should be back for the coming week (Andalusia, Brantley and J.U. Blacksher),” Norris said.

“We have had some guys step up and fill in very well in his absence.”

One of the continual strengths of the Panthers’ team is a strong chemistry, which has been nurtured for several years.

Norris said that the chemistry was a contributing factor to the first tournament win.

“The chemistry of our team has been really good,” Norris said.

“These guys have been together for a long time and they put a lot of time in during the summer—at camp, practices, etc.—and that is paying off for them in the young season.”

The Lady Panthers, won’t hit the hardwood again until Thursday’s game against Brantley, but Norris is equally confident of their continued success this season thanks to remarkable efforts from senior Miya Riley.

“She played really well in the first game, and she has stepped up to fill the role of the seniors we lost—especially Tyanna Perkins,” Norris said.

“We are a very young team with only one senior, so it will take some time for the rest of them to find their niche.”

Georgiana will host Brantley Thursday.